Sometimes the law is an idiot, as Charles Dickens once observed. We are reminded regularly of this truism by Michael Newdow, the California man on a personal quest to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. A federal judge ruled in his favor this week and set up another possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which so far has managed to dodge the issue.
We sure wish the court had settled this once and for all in June, because by now we're just tired of reading about Newdow and thinking about the waste of time he's creating in the court system.
Of course, Newdow doesn't think it's a waste. He believes it's a crucial constitutional issue of importance to the nation. And he gets to have his say in court because, well, that's the kind of country this is.
Newdow is an atheist. He doesn't believe in God. "Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists,"' he said. "I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that.' They'd be furious."
He's damn right people would be furious. Because they understand the illogic of Newdow's argument. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Atheism, the denial of God, is not a religion. It's a belief.
There are also people who believe the world is flat. There are people who deny gravity. There are people who think the moon landing was a hoax, that the extermination of Jews by Hitler is merely a theory, and that the sun revolves around the Earth.
That don't make 'em right. And there's no guarantee in the Constitution that says those people get equal time in the nation's public schools. Or that teachers are barred from teaching Einstein's theory of relativity because, so far, no one has been able to travel faster than the speed of light.
Yes, the law must be an idiot. It has no choice but to allow people like Newdow to make their case. We don't have to listen, though, do we? We can choose to believe Michael Newdow doesn't exist.